Meet Me in the Cotton Field features acoustic country blues,
searing electric juke joint workouts
(ST. LOUIS) On April 25, Broke & Hungry Records will take blues fans on an audio tour of the rough and tumble jukes and blisteringly hot cotton fields of Clarksdale, Mississippi. The label responsible for the critically acclaimed debuts of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Odell Harris, is prepping the release of the first recorded collaboration between Delta blues veterans Terry “Big T” Williams and Wesley “Junebug” Jefferson. Meet Me in the Cotton Field features a mix of a cappella field hollers, acoustic country blues and searing electric juke joint workouts.
The disc features tracks from two recording sessions held a year apart. The first session held in late December 2005 at Jimbo Mathus’ Clarksdale recording studio (now located in Como, Mississippi) found the duo performing acoustic numbers ranging from harrowing originals, such as “Meet Me in the Cotton Field” and “The Wolves Are Howling,” to blues standards like “Can’t Be Satisfied” and “Meet Me in the Bottom.” The latter session, held New Year’s Day 2007, features Williams and Jefferson in raucous electric mode, ably supported by young Delta drumming phenom Lee Williams (no relation). Songs from this session approximate the ragged-but-right, heavily amplified style that the musicians bring to their live shows at Clarksdale jukes. Not coincidentally, the session took place at Red’s Lounge, a funky downhome juke where Williams and Jefferson frequently perform.
Meet Me in the Cotton Field represents the first widely available CD for either of Jefferson or Williams, but over the past several decades both men have developed reputations as must-see live acts in and around Clarksdale.
Jefferson, the older of the two at 62, has been a mainstay of the Clarksdale blues scene since the 1960s. As a child, blues was a constant presence in his life. Born in rural Coahoma County, he was the son of sharecroppers who supplemented their income by running a country juke joint filled with gambling, whiskey, food and always blues. Growing up, he experimented with a homemade diddley bow constructed of broom wire nailed to a wall, but he eventually graduated to guitar, then drums and, eventually, bass. From the mid-1960s through today, Jefferson has played with nearly every major figure on the Clarksdale scene: Big Jack Johnson, Frank Frost, Sam Carr, Robert “Bilbo” Walker and James “Super Chikan” Johnson.
Beginning in the early 1970s, he also began occasionally collaborating with a young musician named Terry Williams, who had yet to acquire the nickname “Big T.” Jefferson and his bandmates would frequently see the teenaged Williams peeking through the windows of Clarksdale’s famed Smitty’s Red Top Lounge. Although still a kid at the time, Jefferson says Williams was already “the baddest bass player around” when the two began playing together.
Eventually Big T would become better known as a guitarist thanks to his lengthy apprenticeship in the band of the legendary Big Jack Johnson. Williams can be seen on film in Johnson’s band in the classic Robert Mugge film Deep Blues. Later he became a principal member of the now-defunct Stone Gas Blues Band. In the past decade, Williams has emerged as one of most fiery bandleaders in the Delta, known for his searing guitar playing and fierce vocals.
For more information on this exciting new release of raw Delta blues, contact Jeff Konkel at 314/304.8928.